How to become a more politically friendly citizen

There are ways to get past today's politically divisive times

Marty Luna-Wolfe, left, chairwoman of the Mohave County Democratic Central Committee, has a friendly and respectful discussion with Mohave Republican Forum President Richard Basinger over political topics and views Friday at Beale Street Brews coffeehouse. (Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

Marty Luna-Wolfe, left, chairwoman of the Mohave County Democratic Central Committee, has a friendly and respectful discussion with Mohave Republican Forum President Richard Basinger over political topics and views Friday at Beale Street Brews coffeehouse. (Hubble Ray Smith/Daily Miner)

Americans united to defeat the British and found this great nation nearly 250 years ago, joined the battle to stop Hitler from invading Europe and sent a man to the moon.

Can it really be that tough to reach a compromise on immigration, health care, the federal budget and gun control?

Well, yes, especially in these politically divisive times. The nation hasn’t been this polarized since perhaps the Civil War.

You can read it in the editorial pages of the Daily Miner, said Marty Luna-Wolfe, chairwoman of the Mohave County Democratic Central Committee.

“I often read the letters to the editor in the Miner and just shake my head,” she said. “People call Republicans or Democrats all kinds of names. It is mostly just pure old name-calling. I find they have very little other than ego to share, nor do I listen to naysayers because they are just more of the same.”

So how can the average citizen in Kingman bring about friendlier politics?

It starts with listening respectfully to what others have to say, even if their opinion differs from yours, rather than formulating your rebuttal, said Richard Basinger, president of Mohave Republican Forum. “We had neighbors who were for (Barack) Obama. We had our differences,” he said. “Now we go to lunch together about once a month and we talk about political issues. We got on the subject of abortion and he got mad and then he apologized.”

A lawyer and former part-time pastor, Basinger believes there needs to a return to biblical “truths” upon which the country was founded.

“The more people in this country have strayed from the foundations of Gold’s principles, the more divided and angry people have become,” he said. “I unequivocally believe that insofar as people will truly return to God, and therewith make determinations based on scriptures, there will be restored unity, love and peace.”

In Donald Trump’s inaugural address, the president mentioned that Americans need to be able to speak their minds and to debate with one another, but always to pursue solidarity.

“This can be approached by focusing on what brings us together in our communities,” said Marianne Salem, vice president of Kingman Republican Women’s Club. “We need to take collective action for our city, state and county’s best interest. This all begins with each of you individually pursuing unity.”

One of the goals of the Kingman Republican Women is to drive a movement toward healthier communication, she added.

Luna-Wolfe of Mohave County Democrats said Congress has become a group of politicians who serve their party first. As it now stands, they can’t serve the people.

“It makes me sad that the days of representatives and senators who are masters at the art of compromise appears to be gone,” she said. “I believe that the key to passing meaningful legislation that moves our country ahead, at least in the eyes of half of the people, is to have our Congress drop the shield of party-first and listen to each other.”

Americans need to elect politicians who understand that it takes compromise to move forward, and who work toward passing legislation that will serve the most people in the best possible way, she said.

As far as citizens being more politically friendly, Luna-Wolfe said they need to quit believing everything they read on social media, do their research and know their subject before opening their mouth.

She’s very much in line with what Basinger of the Republican Forum said about listening to others.

“Understand that your opinion is not the only important thing in the world,” the Democratic chairwoman said. “Then we need to revert back to the age-old technique of listening to what someone is saying that is talking to you. Listen actively with civility as your goal, rather than listening as if you were a hungry lion waiting to pounce.”

Larry Schiff, chairman of Mohave County Republican Central Committee, views the other side as simply “misguided,” not hateful.

“I promote a political party that stands for individual liberty, free enterprise, individual responsibility and fealty to the Constitution,” Schiff said. “I will work with anyone who shares those goals, though I recognize there is another side who I must, without compromising principles, sway by intellectual argument, and not by force.”

There’s something to be learned from different cultures, languages, races and religions, said Suellen Stewart, past president of the Republican Women’s Club and precinct chairwoman for the Republican Central Committee, said. That extends to politics.

“At this time, we are all passionate about what is going on in this country,” Stewart said. “However, we can still learn from each other if we respect each other. My friends and I are constantly debating issues, and it is amazing how we see things so differently, and yet we are learning. That’s what it’s all about.”

Being Friends

Here are three ways citizens can become more politically friendly:

• Get involved.

Attend city council and county supervisors meetings, along with town halls. Join the PTA. Don’t just show up; make your voice heard. Make friends on all sides of the issue. Be a collation builder. Discover where your beliefs overlap with others before debating about the issues on which you disagree.

• Get in touch.

From petitions to postcards to calls and texts, there are numerous ways to get in touch with your elected officials at every level of government. Encourage your representatives to work constructively with their colleagues in an effort to depolarize politics and ultimately be more effective at their jobs.

• Speak out.

Organize or attend a rally. Raise money for a political cause that matters to you. Write a letter to the editor of the Daily Miner. Take advantage of channels available to you.

“The best remedy of all, on both the national and local levels, is to support candidates who are problem solvers and consensus builders, not partisan warriors,” said Ira Shapiro, a former ambassador who has held senior positions in the U.S. Senate. “Look for the candidates who put the country or the community first – above party allegiance or personal aggrandizement.”

Source: StatePoint Media